What better way to celebrate summer than with sweet, buttery cobs of fresh corn? There are many routes to cooking corn on the cob—so many, in fact, that it’s a great all-purpose dinner side whether you’re camping, cooking at home, or grilling by the pool.
Here are a few of our fave methods—cook times will all vary depending on how crisp vs. soft you like your corn. Generally, look for a brightened color and slightly plump, swollen look to the kernels, and don’t be afraid to test one (the row that sort of hangs off down by the bottom of the cob is easiest to pluck from).
The most common no-fuss method of preparing corn on the cob is on the stovetop. Shuck it, clean off all of the little corn silk fibers, and plunge it into a big pot of boiling water. Turn heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, then drain and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Some folks boil their corn like you would eggs—place the corn in with the cold water, bring to a boil, and turn the heat off. Wait at least 10 and up to 30 minutes, then drain and serve.
You can also take a gentler stovetop approach and steam your corn. This preserves more of its water-soluble vitamin content and, some say, flavor. Place shucked, cleaned corn in a steamer pot or basket and steam about 10 to 12 minutes.
If you don’t have a large pot or are sharing a few cobs amongst a group, try cutting them in half before cooking.
This method is my favorite, as the corn is cooked in its own husk and soaks up some of the smoky flavor from the grill. I think of it has having more character than corn simply boiled or steamed, although it takes some extra time to ready the grill, so is best utilized when you’ve already got plans to fire it up.
All you’ve got to do is throw your corn cobs, fully clothed, onto the hot grill. Cover and allow them to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then turn. Repeat this until the husk is well charred around the edges (your corn will char too, if you don’t turn often enough), about 20 minutes. Remove carefully with tongs and strip the husk away to reveal deliciously grilled goodness.
If you’ve got the foresight, it’s also helpful to soak your husked corn in water for 10 minutes or so before grilling. This helps lock in some of the moisture and steam the corn as it grills, and keeps it from catching on fire (no worries if it does; just turn it and keep truckin’).
Some prefer stripping the corn before grilling and wrapping it in foil.
Who wants to heat up the oven in the dead of summer? Someone who’s all ready to grill, only to find the grill is occupied/missing/broken (more on this tomorrow). Use the same method described above directly on a rack in the very bottom position of an oven set to broil (about 450˚F, if you have the option). Your husks won’t char quite as much, so turn after 10 minutes and check your corn after another 10.
My mom just sent me this nifty tip for cooking “cooler corn” for a big group, or when your lobster pot is full of lobster. Shuck your corn and toss it into a clean cooler. Boil two kettles of water (or more, as needed), pour the hot water over top of the ears of corn. and shut the lid. Finish cooking dinner and setting the table, and by the time you all sit down the corn is perfectly cooked (about 30 minutes, although it can sit longer).
Whichever method you choose, don’t forget that corn on the cob just ain’t the same without rolling it on top of a big stick of butter and sprinkling it with salt and pepper before you chow down.